BEIJING—China says its defense minister and the U.S. Navy secretary have discussed security at sea and steps to bolster the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

The visit by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus comes days after China began landing planes on its sole aircraft carrier, displaying rapid progress toward deploying the ultimate symbol of naval power.

The Defense Ministry said Mabus met with Defense Minister Liang Guanglie on Tuesday.

China has criticized the U.S.'s moves in the Pacific as part of a campaign to encircle and contain China, while its moves to assert its claims in the South China Sea and off its east coast have unnerved its neighbors.